Detecting Knowledge of Incidentally Acquired, Real-World Memories Using a P300-Based Concealed-Information Test

12 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2014  

John B. Meixner

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law; Northwestern University - Department of Psychology

J. Peter Rosenfeld

Northwestern University - Department of Psychology

Date Written: November 20, 2014

Abstract

Autobiographical memory for events experienced during normal daily life has been studied at the group level, but no studies have yet examined the ability to detect recognition of incidentally acquired memories among individual subjects. We present the first such study here, which employed a concealed-information test in which subjects were shown words associated with activities they had experienced the previous day. Subjects wore a video-recording device for 4 hr on Day 1 and then returned to the laboratory on Day 2, where they were shown words relating to events recorded with the camera (probe items) and words of the same category but not relating to the subject’s activities (irrelevant items). Electroencephalograms were recorded, and presentation of probe items was associated with a large peak in the amplitude of the P300 component. We were able to discriminate perfectly between 12 knowledgeable subjects who viewed stimuli related to their activities and 12 nonknowledgeable subjects who viewed only irrelevant items. These results have strong implications for the use of memory-detection paradigms in criminal contexts.

Keywords: autobiographical memory, memory, cognitive neuroscience, episodic memory, eyewitness memory

Suggested Citation

Meixner, John B. and Rosenfeld, J. Peter, Detecting Knowledge of Incidentally Acquired, Real-World Memories Using a P300-Based Concealed-Information Test (November 20, 2014). Psychological Science, Vol. 25, No. 11, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2536559

John B. Meixner (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Northwestern University - Department of Psychology

Evanston, IL
United States

J. Peter Rosenfeld

Northwestern University - Department of Psychology ( email )

Evanston, IL
United States

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